The Two Destinies
3. Swedenborg And The Sibyl
MY narrative may move on again from the point at which it paused in the first chapter.
Mary and I (as you may remember) had left the bailiff alone at the decoy, and had set
forth on our way together to Dermody's cottage.
As we approached the garden gate, I saw a servant from the house waiting there. He
carried a message from my mother--a message for me.
"My mistress wishes you to go home, Master George, as soon as you can. A letter has
come by the coach. My master means to take a post-chaise from London, and sends word
that we may expect him in the course of the day."
Mary's attentive face saddened when she heard those words.
"Must you really go away, George," she whispered, "before you see what I have got
waiting for you at home?"
I remembered Mary's promised "surprise," the secret of which was only to be revealed to
me when we got to the cottage. How could I disappoint her? My poor little lady-love
looked ready to cry at the bare prospect of it.
I dismissed the servant with a message of the temporizing sort. My love to my mother--
and I would be back at the house in half an hour.
We entered the cottage.
Dame Dermody was sitting in the light of the window, as usual, with one of the mystic
books of Emanuel Swedenborg open on her lap. She solemnly lifted her hand on our
appearance, signing to us to occupy our customary corner without speaking to her. It was
an act of domestic high treason to interrupt the Sibyl at her books. We crept quietly into
our places. Mary waited until she saw her grandmother's gray head bend down, and her
grandmother's bushy eyebrows contract attentively, over her reading. Then, and then
only, the discreet child rose on tiptoe, disappeared noiselessly in the direction of her
bedchamber, and came back to me carrying something carefully wrapped up in her best
"Is that the surprise?" I whispered.
Mary whispered back: "Guess what it is?"
"Something for me?"
"Yes. Go on guessing. What is it?"